1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources


Abraham’s intercession for the people of Sodom (Genesis 18:23-33) must rank as one of the more enigmatic passages in Scripture. The people of Sodom were the epitome of cruelty and wickedness while Abraham was kind and righteous. Why would he pray for the preservation of such wickedness?

Our sages compounded the enigma when they taught that God chose Abraham precisely because of this prayer. The rabbis expounded on Psalm 45:8. “You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore has God, your God, anointed you with oil of joy from among your peers.” The Sages of Israel read these words as if God were addressing Abraham; “You have loved to justify my creations and you have hated to render them guilty it is for this reason that I from all the generations since Noah that I chose to speak to you.” According to this reading, it was Abraham’s prayer on behalf…

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7 Responses to Intercession

  1. LarryB says:

    The first thing I see when reading the story is Abraham praying for the righteous. The whole episode Abraham is fighting for the righteous. Yes there are many bad people but is it right to just kill everyone? This would be no different than if you dropped a bomb on a bank that was being robbed and killed everyone inside just to stop the robbery. I do not understand how he is praying for the wicked. He asks the lord to spare the place but only for the righteous sake. – far be it from you to kill the righteous with the wicked treating the righteous and the wicked alike.- the plan was to destroy the city.
    “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[e] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
    26 The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

    • LarryB says:

      God has the ability to single out the first born, can he not single out the wicked as well? Abraham knows this.

    • larryb says:

      Is there another version that is more sympathetic to the wicked?

      • LarryB Some of the commentators point out the Abraham stresses that the righteous people be “in the midst of the city” or “in her” – implying that the righteous people that Abraham was talking about were those that were connected to the people, thus being able to influence them.

        • LarryB says:

          I would like to read those commentaries if possible. From the text alone I do not see what your saying.

          • LarryB First of all please note that in verse 24 Abraham asks God to forgive the entire city for their (the righteous) sake One of the commentaries that I mentioned is Ibn Ezra who comments on the words “in the midst of the city” in verse 26 as does Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (his comments can be found in his commentary on verses 23-25)

          • says:

            Thanks for your patience, it’s right there in the text. Jeez!

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